Saturday, August 30, 2014

Path-altering Songs

I've been fascinated by the Zen belief that most important decisions are to be made within 7 breaths. Of course this rich historical Philosophy is not urging us to rush our decisions. Rather, what it contends is that our first reaction to important decisions, which happen in 7 breaths, are usually the ones that we make and spend the rest of our long decision process for convincing ourselves of. This is not some magic happening in our brains, or attributing some metaphysical importance to our instincts. The decision that we make in the first seven breaths are actually the manifestation of our long time thoughts that have been "boiling" for a long time. 

What I have experienced in the last few years is that songs or everything related to songs are excellent facilitators of becoming aware of such decisions that we have made but not were aware of. When I think of few important decisions I've taken in the last few years are all associated with a song that made everything clear all of a sudden.

I decided to become a vegetarian (ultimately a vegan) after listening to Meat is Murder by The Smiths for the first time, one late summer night at our Levent apartment:



Heifer whines could be human cries
closer comes the screaming knife
this beautiful creature must die
this beautiful creature must die
a death for no reason
and death for no reason is MURDER

I decided that I wanted to live my life with someone worth living it with, and I had to work for it by listening to First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes one late summer afternoon by the lake in Berlin:



So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery
Besides maybe this time is different
I mean I really think you like me

I decided that I have to let my ego go to enjoy my relationship with my wife after I listened to Kommst du mit in den Alltag by Jetzt! (this is a almost as good Blumfeld version):



Death to the consequences,
Long live tenderness!

I have decided to value fairnesss and kindness in all my relations after listening to I Know It's Over by The Smiths (this is a painfully good Jeff Buckley version):



It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind

Finally, I've come to accept my deamons as a developer and product architect after reading these words by my long-time prophet Lou Reed, poetic but not in a song form:

“It simply requires a very secure ego to allow yourself to be loved for what you do rather than who you are, and an even larger one to realize you are what you do. The singer has a soul but feels he isn’t loved off stage. Or, perhaps worse, feels he shines only on stage and off is wilted, a shell as common as the garden gardenia. But we are all common as snowflakes, aren’t we?”

(source: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/lou-reed-gardenia-and-snowflake)

I felt I had to write these feelings down after reading about a great interpretation of Wittgenstein's work in the Prospect Magazine:

“People nowadays,” Wittgenstein writes in Culture and Value, “think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them-that does not occur to them.”

(source: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/regulars/ray-monk-wittgenstein )
   

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Road To Peace

Let us be very clear about one thing: POLITICS KILLS. The entire Israeli political apparatus lied to the public for 18 days about the three yeshiva boys who were killed brutally by a Hamas split-up. Those in charge knew from the start that the boys were dead, but kept on the search in order to build public support for the brutal invasion of the largest Ghetto in the world, the Gaza Strip. (Source: http://forward.com/articles/201764/how-politics-and-lies-triggered-an-unintended-war/?p=all )

The pictures and the reports coming from Gaza are brutal, heart breaking and making me lose any confidence that I still might have for the international peace keeping efforts. Pounding a population who has no where else to go does not fall short of a war crime.

Furthermore these pictures does not help Israel's security and the well-being of its citizens at all. As a supporter of Isreal's lawful existence in the region, this hurts me even more.

In the end, nothings changed since Tom Waits wrote the song Road to Peace (lyrics: http://www.lyricsmania.com/road_to_peace_lyrics_tom_waits.html)

 


"The fundamentalist killing on both sides is standing in the path of peace
But tell me why are we arming the Israeli army with guns and tanks and bullets?"

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Maradona es mas Grande que Pele!


It will be a tough game for me. On the one side the country I love without an aparrent reason ever since childhood. On the other my Wahlheimat for 5 years. In the end I will not be sad, but for sure I'll be thrilled if Messi gets the final trophy he's been after...

PS: Here is a better version of Argentinian fans singing the same chant on Copacabana





Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Teenage Kicks


The legendary radio producer, record collector and promoter of modern music John Peel loved Northern Irish Punk Band Undertones anthem-of-a-song Teenage Kicks (link to the video: http://youtu.be/wAtUw6lxcis) so much that he had it inscribed on his tombstone.

I really do not know or care if I want a tombstone, but if I do, this song should be on it:


Seriously, there is hardly any other song that fills my veins with so much pure elan.







Saturday, May 03, 2014

Dispatches from the Web

Here are some interesting finds from my reading odyssey from last week:

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Coffee and Capitocalypse

I am  a late comer to specialty coffee,  or to coffee in general. My idea of coffee has been shaped my Nescafe with milk to stay up during PHD or that gruesomely bitter burnt Starbucks coffe that I could only tolerate with a lot of cream and sugar back in my Austin days (exactly here to be precise). I do not like Turkish coffee, since it is even darker than Starbucks coffee.

All of this changed when my friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law Deniz sent our office a filter coffee machine for end user tests. I slowly moved from Starbucks, Nero, Tchibo up to the only speciality coffee shop in Istanbul Kronotrop (link). I have also tested different brewing methods such as using Moka pot (link). Moka pots seem to accentuate the flavors in the beans, and more suited for fresh grinds and for preparing espresso-like substrate for latte variants.

Being the geek that I am, I soon came across Aeropress, which was invented by a geek for geeks (here is a link to an article about the history of Aeropress). After inventing the best Frisbee, Alan Adler decided to invent the best single-shot coffee brewing method. He came up with a plastic chamber that relies on pressure for extraction of flavors. The coffee made with Aeropress has the longest lasting flavors I came to experience in my life. If you are after quick, good-tasting, cheap and clean method of making coffee, Aeropress is the way to go. For those interested, here is a good introductory video:

Aeropress Coffee Brew Guide : MistoBox Series from MistoBox on Vimeo.

I also came across this article (link) discussing how coffee and related experiences are used by the same forces that drive gentrification to create "experiences" for the advantaged classes, exploiting the service sector employees on the way. From this perspective, Aeropress can be seen as liberating as well... OK, I'll stop here and let you enjoy your coffee without diving into social critique.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Gerçeklere Masallar



Belki ergenliğimi çok akut yaşamadığım için, belki konformizmin dibine vurmaya başladığım için, belki de konformist güçler son yıllarda iyice dayanılmaz hale geldiği için; naif olmasa da sinik bir başkaldırı sunan sanat eserleri iyice çekici hale gelmeye başladı bana.

Yaklaşık bir sene önce burada hakkında yazı yazdığım (link) Jetzt şarkısı "Haydi gündelik hayata dalalım!" temalı "Kommst du mit in den Alltag"  ile başlayan Almanca altyazılı bu filmin en ilgi çekici sahnesini dün Walser'in "Tanner Kardeşler"'ini bitirerek kapattım (link).

26 yaşına kadar uşaklık, çiftçilik, oyunculuk, bankacılık yaparak geçinen Robert Walser'in otobiyografik izler taşıyan romanını kitabın arka kapağındaki söz gerçekten çok iyi anlatıyor: "Gerçekçi bir masal". Kafka'vari bir sis perdesi arkasından ne kadarının gerçek, ne kadarının eleştirel, ne kadarının kişisel olduğunu anlamak için kafa yormanız gereken bu kitabı toplumun dört bir yandan kendini sardığını hisseden tüm yaşıtlarıma tavsiye ediyorum.

Modernitenin katılaşmaya başladığı ilk günlerde yazılan bu kitap, Kafka'nın mektuplarında da kendine yer buluyor. Editör'ün yorumu ile aslında Kafka da Walser de hala cevaplayamadığımız şu temel soru ile boğuşuyorlar: Özgürlük adı altında herkesin belli kalıplara girmesini emreden bir sistemde nasıl "kendimiz" oluruz? Kafka kendimiz olamamızın suçunu bize yıkarken, Walser burada suçu dışarıda buluyor. Hala cevabını vermediğimiz bu sorunun asıl cevabının bu iki yorumun ortasında bir yerde olduğunu söylemek sanırım sadece "apaçıkçılık"-(truism) olur.

Türkçe çevirisi için link.